the world on fire; new art, end of summer.

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my current interest/deal.

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the crew . i love these fine people.

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i have the spice.

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seattle tattoo convention.

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with some of my heroes.

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devil shin is nine years old, well healed and settled in.

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i also saw the eclipse and retreated to the forest.

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the world is on fire.

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this past week’s painting, process shots, and sadness

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I’ve been painting every day since I last posted. Here is my current favorite brush and some rags, in front of the cloud section of a painting I’m working on. No matter where you are, there’s always a storm on the way.

The day after xmas my elderly lady dog died. She had been sick, off and on, with laryngeal paralysis all year. She was 16. She died in her sleep after a long day of rough times breathing- We’d had the vet coming in the morning, but she was gone when we woke up. She was one of the best, sweetest dogs I’ve ever known, and I miss her. I’ve gotten a lot of condolences, so thank you guys, it did really help.

I went back to painting the day after that. These are the things I’ve been working on all week. (For solstice, I got an espresso maker, stretcher bars, and some brushes…it was a lovely holiday despite the sad time right after.) I also got a popcorn maker. I have been living on lattes and popcorn now for a week, by the way. It’s just fine.

 

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Here are the initial stage of the piece I’m currently working on. I’ll probably finish this one today. It’s an area near Ona Beach in Oregon, where a creek washes out to the surf, causing a little rift and depression in the sand. I made sketches of this just after sundown. The sky was far too crazy red for my taste in the beginning, but I think it’s better now. I kept messing with the clouds, scraping them off and trying again. I think  that it’s all right now.

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The next thing I want to show you is a painting that was really hard for me to finish. I liked the rocks, the low point of view, with the ocean at my back. Just damp puddles in the sand that had been churned up by people walking around. This was near Heceta Head. There were SO many people there that day, all my sketches say “too many people” in the margins. I also took a photo that day, for reference, because there were birds. Flocks of odd birds and the way they were flying around the people was what I really wanted to paint.  So here you see the beginning sketch in paint, then the landscape alone. Then…
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Then I used my reference to scrape out areas for the birds. As soon as I started painting them I was unhappy. They were difficult. I didn’t like birds any more. But I’d already committed, mentally, to having them there. I cursed the birds, I fought the birds, I finished the birds and they look all right, for little salty bastards that just happened to fly into the painting. You can see the finished image here, or buy prints. The original for this is spoken for.

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When the birds were done I did this small, quick study of a logging road on Rte 34 near Alsea. I had sketched this site from every angle many times, and it’s one of my favorite subjects. Always finding new little things to emphasize or change about it. The mood there was always damp, diffuse, misty. I started then finished this one in a great mood.

The original is for sale, as well as prints which you can find at this link.
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Then, going through my sketch pad, I realized that on my last visit to Phoenix I had done some sketching at roadside. I love roads, highways or side roads, I really enjoy drawing them and painting them. This was in Northern AZ. I stopped to mess with my GPS, pulled off onto a frontage road, and realized that the sky ahead was very ominous. VERY ominous. If you have seen this blog entry you know what happened about an hour after I made the sketches for this painting. I think I decided to stay a bit and draw just to avoid driving into this maelstrom.

I did still of course have to drive through it. I liked the way the road ended in a little hummock though, in this sketch- the road of course continued over that hill on along the way but it looked like the end of the road, like that would just be the end of the trip. I did another recent painting from another sketch I made that day, facing south. That one is here. This one was drawn facing north along the frontage, away from the storm. The light was very weird. It was near sundown but not quite.
On the left you can see it’s mostly turpentine and a little scrubbing with an old brush to start with. Then I went at it with very thick paint to finish. This one has been scanned now, and the varnish is drying. The original is for sale and prints are at this link.
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RIP Hildie, you were a good girl.

new works, and some things I’ve been up to in Seattle

 

new prints and shirts ^^^

and some random stuff…vvv

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new works, and some things I've been up to in Seattle

 

new prints and shirts ^^^

and some random stuff…vvv

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a story from my youth.

still not cool enough.

I was ten years old, and the house I lived in was next to a small playground/park. Of course back in those days I was usually unsupervised; I spent most of my time climbing trees, swinging on the swings in the little playground, or catching minnows and salamanders in the crick next to it, or climbing trees in our little patch of meadow, or looking for animal skulls or bones in the swamp behind it. I feel like I should draw a map, but these little places were maybe within a few acre’s range of my house.

Unsupervised outside was the usual routine then. Almost every kid in my little neighborhood was the same- this was the seventies, and parents threw their kids outside as much as possible, only calling them in for homework, dinner, and bedtime. This was before video games, before the internet. We had TV but there was nothing on for kids my age at that time of day, right after school.

One day, I was at the swings, and two slightly-older, really cool looking girls that I didn’t know were there. They were on  the swings, hanging out together, talking. I wanted to be their friend! I really really wanted them to like me. They were just amazing! They had cool haircuts, and awesome clothes, and wore makeup, and they were talking about really cool stuff like riding bikes and smoking and where they were going over the summer. They were rich white girls from town, just hanging out in my little playground by the woods. I was in awe of them the way only a ten-year-old bookworm math geek can be in awe of worldly, confident and successful people. My heart was swollen in my chest, and I grew enthusiastic as I listened to them chat with each other.

I tried to talk to them, and they started teasing me. “You’re too young,” one of them said, “You’re too young to hang out with us. Go away.”

Of course I didn’t go away. I kept trying to get involved in their cool conversation. In retrospect I was being incredibly annoying, in retrospect all kids that age are annoying most of the time. One of them finally asked me a question. “How old are you, anyway?”

My heart leaped! They were going to be my friends! “I’m ten, ten years old!”

I will astound them!

I will astound them!

“Bullshit!,” she replied, “There’s no way you’re ten. You’re like…eight. Eight years old. Stop lying.”

“NO I AM TEN I AM NOT LYING” I felt my face get red hot. I was in fact pretty small for my age- I was the shortest person in my class, and always unhappy about it. I was also embarrassed, ashamed, I don’t know why now and I didn’t know then, either.  I whined, “I’M REEEEEEALLY TEN YEARS OOOOLD”

She looked at me and said, “Prove it. Show me your report card or something.”

“I WILL” I said, and started running home. I got home, shuffled through papers (seriously, I was in awe of these two girls) found my latest report card, snuck it past my mom out the kitchen door where she stood smoking a cigarette (“what do you have there? why are you being sneaky? get back outside and play”) and ran at top speed back to the swingset, triumphant, ready to bask in my newfound coolness. Not only did my report card have my year in school on it (proving my age) but I ALSO had straight A’s that year! They were bound to love me after seeing that. I will astound them! So I ran with my paper in my fist, fast as I could, back to them. And when I got back to the swingset…

They were gone. They’d left. Those two girls didn’t care who I was, how old I was. To them, I was a pestering annoyance. Asking me to prove something was their way of getting me to go fuck off so they could escape my affections, their way of putting me down, of making me leave. I was so crushed, and suddenly, a lot of things made sense to me in a horrible new way.

Tests at school? Proving myself to people who didn’t care. Homework? The same. Chores?Proving myself to my parents, who should have already believed in me. Pretty much any kind of showing off, speaking up, explaining myself, anything, was people who disliked me, asking me to prove myself, in order to waste my time or get rid of me. Success was just a sham.

I swung on the swings for a while, alone, and then my mother called for me to come eat dinner. And that was that.

This memory is small, and isolated from other memories of my life at that time. The feelings that go with this memory are HUGE, and have made me feel that same burning shame, that same disappointment, even now, even into my adulthood. It’s incredible how massive the exact moment of disillusionment with the world can seem, when you’re young. I think it was two years later I started smoking, started slacking off in school, and sort of dropped out of the race to succeed in life. To this day, I am uncomfortable explaining myself, proving myself, showing my background or history or performance with people, or attempting any accomplishment that I can’t personally enjoy attempting. I stopped worrying about failure, that day.  I still  feel like doing some things is a waste of my time, is a fruitless effort for people who don’t give a damn. Still. I still feel that way. 

We all have our moments of realization, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. I’d have to call this my first epiphany. I think in one way it has served me really well, though. Because of the life I have lived and my lack of concern for social markers of success, I’ve done things that I loved, lived a very interesting life so far, and seen a lot of amazing things I would never have encountered if I was running the rat race. SO I am ok with this memory, this moment in my life. It’s all right by me.

the post office and I have a love-hate relationship.

Seriously.

They’ve twice now completely destroyed art I was shipping. They have lost a package by sending it to the wrong town. and yet-

The woman at the local PO helps me. I have no idea how to even guess what mailing things will cost, so I go in there, and I pick her brain. She’s always busy and yet she always explains everything to me.

I’ve become a lot more organized because of her.

Living in a small town has its advantages. I go to the store, they know both my cigarette brand and whether I got coffee or tea. They pet my dog, and say hello. I don’t live right in town so I don’t have anyone intruding on me or involved in my daily life, so I pretty much have it easy here.

Off to the post office site now to write a rave review for my shipping guru.

(pictured: naked mole rat sculpture I am making for a friend, stage one)

making art, making life.

The world is a very grey and dismal place at times. There are deaths, horrors. We are all alone in these little bodies, floating around, disconnected most of the time- from each other and from the ground we stand on. Most people DO live quietly, desperately, working and thinking and amassing a thousand new worries each day.

Most people walk around afraid, nervous. Or angry. Or just focused on the task at hand, which for more people all the time involves merely surviving the vicissitudes of economy and thrift, of bad jobs or no work. Of struggle. Life is mostly struggle and concern for most people on earth, and for the rest it can be even worse.

It’s our job, as artists, to show people that there is more. I am not a religious person, nor even a spiritual one. I do not believe that there is a sky-man or any kind of conscious entity watching over us carefully, or interested in our problems. I do not believe. BUT- I do believe that the world itself is a being of grace, and by truly seeing it, and being within it, we can lighten our weight. This entails details.

When one is in a chain gang, there will be a beautiful weed sprouting in the ditch. When one has lost hope and is starving, there will be the smell of dry morning air, and the sunrise. When the worries about the future become too much, there is still the present.

I know this doesn’t make up for any of it. I also know that there are times for all of us when we realize our solitude, when we are alone and in pain, in the dark. Cold and possibly hopeless. In those times it is art’s job to expose the alternatives, to bring the world into us and that way bring us out of ourselves.

Art doesn’t have to be “good” or skilled or perfect or even beautiful to do this. It will be a different view for each artist and a different piece that speaks to each viewer. Sometimes the crude and the ugly do this much more effectively than the pretty and the sweet- actually for me, when I am alone and in pain in the dark, it is the reminder that others have been there as well that helps. And art that speaks this way is often NOT beautiful to look at.

nude watercolor painting, naked smileI need to sell art to live- to pay rent. To eat. If I could give it away and not be homeless I would. But the necessities of the world insist that my work must be valued at a number. I know that for some the value of their work is low and their hours are long and hard; that they must do work which is difficult, upsetting, dangerous. I am lucky to be an artist, I am privileged in ways not many are. I love my work. That alone is a stroke of fortune.

People who hate their work but must do it deserve my best efforts, because I know that at times my work, seeing my work and interacting with it, is their release and their reminder. Artists have an obligation to try their damnedest to do that, and to do it as best they can every time.

seattle, desert drives, indian summer

dana's piggy, the day afterIt’s really cold here, coming from AZ. I’ll be here with my gentleman friend for a few days.

a fewcactus pictures from the hot leg of the trip, after the jump.

(more…)

about stray dogs

this is not the dog that got hit, but it's a dog I knew

So while I was in AZ a stray dog got hit. we stopped, and it was all these hispanic dudes in a car parts junkyard with like five stray dogs roaming around…I say stray because they were running in and out of traffic and shit, and the guys acted like the dog getting hit was no big deal (it got hit HARD). In retrospect they were pretty drunk, leaning on the broken cars, coronas in hand, the old guy seemed to be the one in charge of all the dogs. He just kept patting the dog and saying “is no problem, see, he ok!”

more after the jump

(more…)

poppies

for a dear friend long departed.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

 

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